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By: MechtaK, Kendall Byington
Feb 07 2008 1:53pm
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I must admit, that as I began thinking up a theme for this contest, I had no idea about what I was going to make the contest about.  Lucky for me, I had opened a MED pack and came across a Force of Will , then thought about the impact that this card made on the environment.  It dawned on me then, that it would make for a classic look a custom card design, and December's contest evolved into an "alternative casting cost" theme.  You can find all manner of past custom card contests, as well as the current contest, in the PureMTGO forums here.

The three judges involved in this contest were MechtaK, Dragonmayu, and Rasparthe.  Each card was indvidually judged on a scale of 0-10 for Originality, Design, Play Balance, Flavor, and Card Appeal.  Dragonmayu was unable to provide commentary on the cards he judged, unfortunately.  So, without further preamble, I provide you with December's Custom Card Contest!


MechtaK's Commentary: Nice take on the WoG cards, and the alternate casting cost is well balanced.  Unfortunately, the card itself, destroying all creatures, has been done to death, though I do like the added Gaea's Blessing effect that follows.  The wording is a bit clunky, the first paragraph should have the shuffle your library clause as a 2nd sentence rather than in the midst of the wording.

Rasparthe's Commentary: Not sure why this is Green/White? There is some precedent for a white wrath, but a green one? This can be cast with only green mana was that the intent? For that matter you can cast this card in a mono-blue deck with the alternative casting cost. The alternative cost seems pretty high though, four additional creatures on top of the ones you are wrathing, seems excessive.

Final Score: 101


MechtaK's Commentary: Despite the explanation given, I find that this card to be quite broken.  If given the ability to block multiples creatures, it can get quite rude, and its cost of sacrificing four lands isn't steep enough with regards to what it becomes.  Making it a defender keeps it nailed down, but we all know there are ways around even that easily.

Rasparthe's Commentary: The templating for the token is very confusing even after reading it multiple times I could not decide what the stats are for the token. I assume he meant the token is a copy of the blocked creature but it never states as much. Also, for being able to be cast on Turn three without acceleration this is basically a creature that says, “If an opponent attacks you destroy all attackers”. Mishra’s Defender is near to impossible to remove, short of multiple Sudden Death or Nameless Inversion or perhaps an Oblivion Ring. The defender ability helps with balance here or this would be an incredibly quick steamroller. I like the idea of the card but I think it could have been better executed.

Final Score: 89


MechtaK's Commentary: A card that isn't really anything new, and isn't really well costed in its alternate casting.  Who wouldn't trade 2 lands for 3 to replace it and ensuring that your card draws favor more non-land draws?  It's crazy good mind you, but do we really need another go get more land card, when there are plenty to choose from.  The way I see it, by second turn I can go and get a third land with Rampant Growth, and this essentially meets the same goal.  Not impressed with this card.

Rasparthe's Commentary: This is a solid card. Well designed and good acceleration in the right color. Only I don’t think this is a rare card it doesn’t do enough for a rare slot. It is acceleration and some pretty good deck thinning but I think maybe it belongs in uncommon slot. (Not often you find an underpowered card). It doesn’t do anything fancy but certainly well designed.

Final Score: 104

MechtaK's Commentary: This card is intriguing.  I'm not really sure what to think of it.  The way it is worded, it would seem that you discard a creature card to look through your opponent's library and but that card into play under your opponent's control.  It's a crazy idea, not sure who would want to do that, but so unique as to have me guessing at how it could be abused.  I'm sure it could be.  But in a puzzling, out of the blue sort of way.

Rasparthe's Commentary: I read this card better than fifty times. I still feel like I am missing something. Is there a reason I am missing that you would want to put a creature card from your opponent’s library into play under their control?? I can understand search an opponents library put it under your control, even search your own library and put it into play under your opponents control but not this version. Well templated anyway.

Final Score: 91


MechtaK's Commentary: Here is another card that is entirely original.  Gving your opponent something that allows card draw, personal shroud, and noncreature shroud is a pretty rough ride.  Since the colors it is in, green/blue/white, are not the removal colors of note (black/red), I'm not inclined reject this card as too strong, with one exception.  You COULD play this in a red, black, or any color deck, since nothing in those colors is required to actually cast this card.  On the other hand, it stops burn.  A very tricky card to play, but good concept.

Rasparthe's Commentary: I feel this card’s alternative cost is very unbalanced. The casting cost is harsh and rightly so for the abilities it generates while the alternative cost is near painless. Giving your opponent these symmetrical abilities probably won’t affect you much since your deck will be built around it. This means you will get a very powerful card that will hit play on Turn 1 and therefore uncounterable (aside from FoW) and then cannot be removed without a global enchantment removal. Also the cumulative upkeep is incredible powerful especially if you have a way of destroying their token. The only other card I could find with a similar cumulative upkeep was Psychic Vortex which as a penalty makes you sacrifice a land and discard your hand every turn. This one has no such penalty and that doesn’t even take into consideration the milling qualities. In short, too many things crammed into one card. Likely could have been three cards.

Final Score: 64

(Note: Dragonmayu did not score this card, thus the low score.)

MechtaK's Commentary: Essentially another tutor, but a very high priced tutor and slower than other types of tutors.  I'm not sure skipping draw and combat steps as well as allowing opponent to draw a card is in flavor of red/black.

Rasparthe's Commentary: Tutor cards are nothing new and this one is more powerful than any that have been printed in recent years. The ability to pull three creature cards is crazy powerful and would need some severe drawbacks in the casting/alternative cost. The casting cost is fairly harsh almost ensuring you will have to play Black/Green to cast it but the alternative cost is not. For one you get to put one of the cards in your hand so losing a draw phase is not that bad. Losing a combat phase and giving your opponent a card to ensure you are drawing your best creatures doesn’t seem hard enough. And it should likely be a sorcery.

Final Score: 86


MechtaK's Commentary: 
A 1st turn 3/3, and not just one.  Possible to put out multiple 3/3 creatures 1st turn with an extremely lucky draw.  How good is that?  Very good, especially considering what you are giving up.  If you are going first, you give your opponent 2, 4, 6, or 8 lands (and not even basic lands, but any land).  I actually find this to be well balanced, and in flavor.  The rhino itself is nothing special, but is nothing to balk at in early turn plays.  And as Evu said, it can power other cards pretty well.

Rasparthe's Commentary: 
Very solid card, the casting cost and the alternative cost are very fair and well balanced. I’m not sure on the templating as I think most of the cards I have seen with alternative costs seem to have the ‘rather than pay’ at the end of the paragraph not in the middle like Reverent Silence. Although, is this a rare slot?

Final Score: 121

MechtaK's Commentary: Evu, I agree with you, in that all walls should be able to block as many as they can whenever they can.  As for this actual card, I'm not really impressed by it.  Of course, I'm not a big fan of walls that just sit there.  If walls did work as you said, I might have more liking for walls, but they don't.

Rasparthe's Commentary: I think the card is slightly overcosted. 5cc for anything with 0 power seems excessive and the alternative cost is quite harsh. I do like the rebel feature though, right on flavour and goes on theme.

Final Score: 102


MechtaK's Commentary: This is sort of a reverse Delve, but with an upkeep cost.  Here's the problem I see with this card, if played first turn, its all good game.  Because of that alone, I can't really get behind this card.  The concept is great, but its far too fast and far too strong a card with its alternate casting cost.

Rasparthe's Commentary: Wow, a Turn 1 7/7 trampler. I think I would gladly pay 7 cards from my library to have a that. Turn four kill for no mana. Even the penalty isn’t that harsh, two additional cards each turn and you have the option to sacrifice it? Seems a touch overpowered or the penalty should be worse.

Final Score: 90

MechtaK's Commentary: First of all, the Brainstorm new ability is not exactly clear.  I know what you wanted it to say, but what it says now will confuse some players.  You should have said reveal any number of cards and indicated that the revealed cards were to come from your hand.  The card is definitely in flavor of blue though.

Rasparthe's Commentary: I find the mechanic hard to understand. If you can reveal only one card then do you really need a mechanic for it? Why not just say reveal a card and reduce the cc by 1? If you can reveal multiple cards how many? Can I reveal cards until I can cast it for free and set it up to 10UU?

Final Score: 91


MechtaK's Commentary: Though I give some merit to the card's originality, I unfortunately think it is very poorly designed.  Add to that the idea of using a d20 to determine its possible alternative casting cost (which could end up being highly expensive or highly cheap), and I can't find much I like about this card.  The only dice rolls I like to see in Magic should be the roll on who goes first.

Rasparthe's Commentary: I think I would have preferred that it is spelled out exactly what type of dice you would be rolling and not assuming a twenty sided. Also, resetting the board down to three permanents should have a harsh alternative cost, you may get away with only paying one card. For such a powerful card the randomness makes it seem overpowered.

Final Score: 83


MechtaK's Commentary: There isn't much about this card I don't like.  It's well worded, and well designed, not to mention highly original.  I would have preferred to see it as a sorcery though, its seems a bit strong as an instant.

Rasparthe's Commentary: Very original idea. The only bad thing I really have to say is that it may actually have too high a converted mana cost. 6cc is equal or more than most Planeswalker cards themselves. You could probably bring it down some into the 4cc range but I like the idea.

Final Score: 120


MechtaK's Commentary: Really, getting the first legendary card out makes your other legendary cards useless unless there is a trick that makes it worth putting a 2nd in play, or your first one is killed.  Leaving only removal cards as an option against this guy.  That's not so bad, until I begin to wonder why he's a 0/7?  If damage doesn't matter, why not make him a 0/4.  Card casting cost is a bit high for him.

Rasparthe's Commentary: I like the double alternative cost of this card, first removing all other copies and having to run 4 of this creature to start with. The only nitpicking I can do was to with the flavour. A soldier creature (with the exception of Kjeldoran Royal Guard although the flavour explains its) usually isn’t trying to prevent damage but deal it and this soldier even prevents your damage from being dealt. Still a great idea.

Final Score: 108

MechtaK's Commentary: Sorry, but this card is a first turn nightmare card.  It's yet another example of a card that can come into play 1st turn and become good game.  A 1/1 elf becomes a shrouded 6/6 on turn 1 or 2.  That's way too strong in return for a card you can't cast for several turns anyhow (and why would you when you can make a far better fattie on turn 1?)

Rasparthe's Commentary: I think this should maybe have been an Aura, perhaps with flash. Most cards that grant an ability that doesn’t disappear at EOT are enchantments although I’m sure there are exceptions. It also seems like a longer lasting version of Stonewood Invocation.

Final Score: 108


MechtaK's Commentary: For a suspend of three you get double strike (really really good), flash (useless, because you need to designate cards in hand rather than under your control), haste (good), and vigilance (good).  If the flash worked as intended, this card would be beyond broke.  The suspend in under costed, and skipping a turn (esp. your first turn), isn't that bad if you have the ability to survive the turn.  Too much from a card that has very little in cost to make up for its strengths.

Rasparthe's Commentary: Giving creatures you control Flash is redundant since they are already in play. The majority of creatures with double strike are either White or Red and Vigilance is almost exclusively White but there is no white in the casting cost. The alternative cost seems fair and balanced for those that would take advantage of this type of card.

Final Score: 91

MechtaK's Commentary: This card is everything the last card wasn't.  Elegantly designed and in flavor.  It's alternate casting cost is unique and quite original.  It could have been worded a little better, such as, "If Wipe Out was played as an instant... ", but the text is still understandable if a little couched.  Kudos on a nice card.

Rasparthe's Commentary: The meat of this card goes all the way back to Alpha in Desert Twister. That card had a 6cc also but could destroy a land as well and was mono-colored. Even Angel of Despair is 7cc and it tacks on a great 5/5 flying angel. This version seems overcosted in the casting cost but the alternative cost is a nice touch and fair. Also the choice of colors seems odd, red isn’t know for it’s destroy cards (aside from artifacts). I think Vindicate sets the correct precedent here with a White/Black casting cost.

Final Score: 113

Well, that's it for December's Custom Card Contest!  Feel free to drop into the forum and submit your own entries in our current custom card contest, if you haven't given it a try.  Until next time!


by Stu Benedict at Thu, 02/07/2008 - 17:48
Stu Benedict's picture

ohh ... don't forget about stealing effects like v. shackles too   : )

Natural Shift... oops by MechtaK at Fri, 02/08/2008 - 03:18
MechtaK's picture

Right you are Evu, I did misread that card.  My bad.  I have no idea why I thought it was a card from hand, I must have been in a daze when I read it.  Silly me.

by Stu Benedict at Thu, 02/07/2008 - 17:41
Stu Benedict's picture

I knew Regret was a Johnny card coming into this with no chance ... but it seemed fun to me. It might be better without the alt casting cost, looking back I am not sure why I picked discard a creature.

Don't forget putting Phage into play FTW !!!! heh

by Rasparthe at Thu, 02/07/2008 - 16:17
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You are absolutely correct that it sounds better the way you templated it and I don't think I docked much for it.  I also believe we will see a Comradery card in print before too long and Pyrosin can sue at that point I think.  Finally, like I said I reread the Regret card 50 times if I read it once and I think in the end I probably tanked it more than I should have you have given some great reasons to put an opponents creature in play and probably the best one just came to me.  Killing Legendary creatures.  Still it is incredibly narrow.

Thanks for your comments!

by Evu at Thu, 02/07/2008 - 15:47
Evu's picture

Judges, thanks for all the work you put into running this contest and writing this article.

About my Stalking Rhino: Rasparthe is right that the "rather than pay" clause usually comes at the end.  But I tried writing the sentence that way, and discovered that it was hard to understand, because of how long and complex the instructions are.  With the way I rewrote it, the meaning is the same, and I think the gains in clarity justify the non-standard templating.

About shawnr's Natural Shift: MechtaK, I think you misread it -- it requires you to remove one of your creatures in play, not a creature card in your hand.  There's no way it'll be played on turn 1.  In fact, by the time you can afford to pay the alternate cost, it would probably be just as easy to pay the mana cost instead.

About Pyrosin's Comradery: A well-earned win.  I agree with Rasparthe that the numbers would need to be adjusted a bit, but the effect is useful, and the idea of giving planeswalkers a kind of Grandeur-like effect is a good one.  And "add loyalty counters to target planeswalker" is an effect we'll probably be seeing on real cards before too long.

About rushmore111's Regret: Not that I don't understand the judges' confusion about what it's good for, but this card makes my Johnny-senses tingle more than any other in the contest.  It could make your Damnations that much more effective.  It could power up any cards you have that care about the number/type/other statistics of your opponents' creatures.  You could use it to get their Flametongue Kavu when you have no creatures in play, or to pre-empt any silver bullets they have in their deck by bringing them out before they're useful.  And of course there's always my good friend Psychogenic Probe.  I guess it's pretty metagame-dependent, but I think it's an exciting idea.